Ultimatum for coup leader

THE junior officer who seized power in a coup d’etat in Mali last week has said he plans to hold free elections and return established order, but rejected demands to surrender power last night.

Late on Thursday, Mali’s neighbours gave coup leader Captain Amadou Haya Sanogo 72 hours to hand power back to civilians. They threatened to close their borders to Malians and to freeze Mali’s account at the regional central bank.

If they are adopted, the measures will be among the toughest imposed on a state in West Africa. Cpt Sanogo took power on 21 March after a mutiny at the military camp where he was based. The mutiny was sparked by the lack of equipment given to troops sent to fight a rebellion by northern Tuaregs.